Some Claim Tactic Of Videotaping Lawmakers’ Homes Has Gone Too Far
DENVER (CBS4) – Video of lawmakers’ homes and the addresses are being posted online for anyone to see. Now some are saying the campaign tactic is taking things too far.
Some feel the practice is an invasion of privacy, while many others say it’s part of politics.
Campaigns have long used what’s known as “trackers” — people who follow candidates around and videotape everything they say and do at public events hoping they slip up. But now some Democratic groups are taking opposition research to a new level.
Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman is one of the targets.
“It was a last straw,” Wanda Ramey of Aurora said.
Ramey agreed to help the group Colorado Fair Share with a video out of frustration. She’s in Coffman’s new district and says she’s tried repeatedly to reach him at his office.
“I even went with his pastor once,” Ramey said.
The video shows Coffman’s neighborhood, interviews with people at a nearby golf club, and Ramey knocking on his door and asking a neighbor about him. It doesn’t show Coffman’s address, but other videos do post addresses.
“I wouldn’t have been involved if we would have done something like that,” Ramey said.
“You have to have some zone of privacy even if you are a public figure,” said Brian Gerber, Executive Director of University of Colorado’s Buechner Institute For Governance.
Beyond privacy Gerber says there’s a safety risk that was heightened after the shooting of former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
“The fact is it’s out there so easy in the public sphere,” political science professor Tony Robinson said.
Robinson said politicians’ private lives have always been fair game.
“This is standard fair,” he said.
Gerber says it’s also what people hate about politics.
“It fuels cynicism,” Gerber said.
Coffman’s campaign sent CBS4 a statement about the issue.
“Congressman Coffman prides himself as being open and available to meet with his constituents and has had dozens of public events over the past two months, including forums, meet-and-greets, town halls, parades, roundtables and meetings with civic organization like the Veterans of Foreign Wars,” the statement reads.
“We are not going to allow Joe Miklosi and his allies intimidate the congressman and his family by stalking, showing up at their home, hiding in bushes and harassing their neighbors. These extreme tactics are desperate, irresponsible and unprecedented in Colorado politics.”
In some cases apparently the goal is to show the lawmakers are wealthy and out of touch. While some may find it unethical, what they’ve done so far is not illegal.